This was the UFC debut for both men and I was really looking forward to this one actually, as Assuncao is a proven top-level Featherweight while Koch had looked AWESOME in his last WEC bout. Koch actually took this fight quite late on too after Manny Gamburyan pulled out.
Round One and Assuncao lands a glancing body kick right away. Good low kick from Raphael as Koch keeps a low stance. Wild left hook misses for Assuncao. They continue to circle and it looks like Koch is waiting for a chance to land a counter. Big high kick misses by a mile for Koch. Right hand lands for Assuncao. Koch begins to push forward a bit and Assuncao looks like heís finding Kochís reach a bit of a problem. Hard body kick from Koch. Assuncao comes rushing in, but walks right into a VICIOUS RIGHT COUNTER from Koch that knocks him clean out. Vicious, vicious shot.
Replay shows the shot landed right on the edge of the jaw, pretty much a picture-perfect shot as Assuncao was rushing forward at the same time, too. You canít get a much cleaner knockout than that. Canít wait to see Koch in action again, the guy has a ton of potential.
ĎJersey Devilí Catone was set to face Dan Miller originally in a battle of Jersey boys, but when Yoshihiro Akiyama pulled out of his fight with Nate Marquardt due to the Japanese earthquake, Miller stepped up the card and Philippou Ė an unsuccessful contestant on TUF 11 Ė stepped in. I actually think Catoneís a bit of an underrated fighter, and so I figured heíd win probably by TKO.
Fight begins and they circle with little action early on. Couple of jabs connect for Catone. Crowd begin to boo about ninety seconds in. Two minutes gone and Catone manages to close the distance into the clinch, forcing Philippou into the cage. Good job from Philippou to shrug him off though and weíre back to square one. Nice combination from Philippou and Catone looks a little wobbled, forcing him to back up a bit. He seems to recover quickly though. Short left hook lands for Philippou. Another combo connects for Philippou but Catone claims an eye poke and backs up. Takedown attempt from Catone and this time he manages to put Philippou on his back in guard. Solid elbow lands for Catone and it looks like Philippouís bleeding. Good elbows from the bottom from the newcomer though. They exchange elbows from the guard and thatís the round. Thereís a lot of blood coming from Philippouís head from the elbows. Close round but Iíd go 10-9 Philippou despite the cut as he seemed to have Catone in some trouble on the feet.
2nd round and the crowd begin to chant ďJersey DevilĒ as they circle. Combo lands for Philippou in an exchange though and itís quite clear Catone is outgunned standing. Sure enough Catone looks for the takedown and forces Philippou into the clinch. Philippou works to defend, but Catone drops for a single leg. Philippou almost goes down, but then manages to shrug it off only to eat a heavy knee on the way back up. Philippou pushes forward with a combo again but doesnít really hurt Catone this time. Good leg kick from Philippou but Catone answers with a left hook. Couple of high kicks just miss for Catone. Nice left hook from Philippou and Catone is forced to clinch. Knees to the legs from Catone and he drops for the takedown, but Philippou works to defend again. Catone gets him down in half-guard with a minute to go. He works to pass and lands a couple of elbows, including one to the back of the head that earns him a warning. Nice pass to mount from Catone and he lands a left hand, but Philippou quickly escapes back to half-guard. Round ends with Catone in control though. 10-9 Catone so itís even going into the third.
3rd round and Catone opens with a decent right hand. Takedown from Catone but Philippou quickly scrambles and tries to get a single leg of his own. Catone avoids that though and works his way back into top position in half-guard. Philippou turtles his head so that Catone canít really hit him anywhere but the back of the head which is illegal. Quite smart. He looks for a sweep, but Catone avoids it, so Philippou manages to work into full guard instead. Some solid elbows land for Catone and Philippouís looking bloodied up now. Catone manages to get into side mount as Philippou moves his hips, and he continues to land shots. Philippou gets a weak half-guard back in, but Catone continues to attempt to mount. Big elbow lands for Catone. Heís beginning to run away with this fight now. More elbows land for the Jersey Devil. Full mount for Catone and he lands some heavy blows as Philippou tries to escape. Good job from the newcomer to get back to half-guard, but heís still getting crushed in this round. Seconds to go and Catone continues to punish him with elbows until the fight ends. 10-9 Catone so 29-28 for Catone overall.
Judges score it 30-27 all round for Nick Catone. Good fight overall as both men looked solid, although Philippou obviously needs some work on his ground game in order to progress. Catone though continues to be one of the more underrated fighters in the 185lbs division in my opinion and Iíd like to see him step up a little in competition if he can stay healthy now.
Loveland had made his UFC debut in December and it was a good one as he walked right through Tyler Toner at 145lbs before dropping to 135lbs for his second outing. His opponent here though was a much tougher one Ė former title challenger and top-five ranked contender Benavidez. I wouldíve actually televised this fight as Benavidez is always exciting and Loveland looked that way in his debut too, but whatever.
Round One and Loveland looks to have a serious size advantage. Benavidez looks to close the distance early but Loveland shrugs him off. Couple of kicks to the body from Benavidez. Takedown attempt from Loveland is unsuccessful but he does land with a knee. Benavidez looks for a takedown of his own but Loveland defends and breaks free. Good right hand counter from Loveland. Nice low kick from Benavidez and he dives on a leg but Loveland avoids again. Nice takedown from Benavidez but Loveland immediately explodes to his feet. Good leg kick from Benavidez. Big right hand connects for Benavidez and he follows with a takedown attempt, but Loveland again stuffs it. They end up clinched and muscle for position, but Loveland breaks free. They circle a little and Loveland clips him with a couple of glancing blows. Takedown attempt from Benavidez again but Loveland defends it once more. Both men throw flurries and Loveland seems to get the better of it. Leg kick and overhand right from Benavidez. Another takedown is stopped by Loveland, but Benavidez lands a right hand on the way out. Nice running knee from Loveland. Round ends with a Loveland right hand. Close round but Iíd lean to Loveland as he blocked all of the takedowns and landed some nice shots too.
Round Two and Benavidez opens with a push kick to the body. They circle and Joseph shoots, and lands a leg kick on the way out as Loveland stuffs it. Wild right hand from Loveland as he charges forward. Finally Benavidez gets a takedown, but Loveland scrambles and escapes as Benavidez tries a DíArce. Looks like Loveland mightíve twisted his knee on the way up though as his balance looks a bit off. Benavidez slips to his back and pops back up, but Loveland grabs a front headlock. Benavidez breaks off and Loveland is visibly limping now. Wild takedown misses for Benavidez. Loveland blocks another takedown but takes a combo from Benavidez. Front kick to the chest from Benavidez. He wades in with a combo but doesnít land cleanly. Nice right uppercut from Loveland. Flurry from Benavidez and he catches Loveland rushing forward and gets a takedown to half-guard. That was a big mistake from Loveland. Loveland tries for a kimura, but Joseph shrugs it off and controls him from the top. It looks like heís setting up for a choke, perhaps a guillotine or a DíArce, but Loveland works to full guard. Looks like someoneís bleeding. Itís Benavidez, probably from an elbow that Loveland threw from the bottom. Round ends with Loveland escaping to his feet. Another close round but Iíd go for Benavidez, so itís even going into the third.
Round Three and both men open by swinging hard punches. Nice uppercut into a right from Loveland. They exchange body kicks and Benavidez looks to grab him, but Loveland backs out. These guys are SWINGING. Good right from Benavidez. Takedown is stuffed by Loveland. And again. Beautiful takedown from Benavidez set up with the right hand. He gets the guillotine off a scramble this time and tries to lock it in, but Loveland fights off the hands and tries to escape. Benavidez tries to control him but Loveland powers up to his feet. Loveland comes charging in but walks right into a crushing right hand that drops him, and Benavidez smells blood and swarms on him as he pops up. Benavidez throws him down and looks for some elbows from half-guard, then hops into side mount. Loveland is in trouble here. Elbows from Benavidez and he manages to stay on top, but Loveland turtles and spins free, exiting with a knee and a right hand. Loveland is beginning to look a little tired. Single leg from Benavidez and he gets Loveland down in half-guard. Less than a minute to go and thatís probably cemented the fight for him. He looks to grab the head for the guillotine again but Loveland explodes back up to his feet. Seconds to go and Loveland comes in swinging and lands a jumping knee, then gets a takedown and gets the back, but Benavidez stands and the fight comes to an end. Great stuff.
Judges have it 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Joseph Benavidez. Well, right guy won, but the fight was much closer than Iíd anticipated and Loveland really impressed me when you consider Benavidez is a consensus top five fighter at 135lbs. I can definitely see him as a contender in the future. Great fight just as youíd expect from Joseph Benavidez who never fails to deliver.
Pellegrino had been on the shelf for some time prior to this one, after losing in a disappointing performance to George Sotiropoulos at UFC 116. He was looking to replicate his previous showing in New Jersey, where he choked out BJJ expert Fabricio Camoes at UFC 111. Tibau meanwhile was looking to bounce back from his tough loss to Jim Miller.
We get started and they circle and throw some punches that largely miss. Left hand from Tibau sets up a single leg, but Kurt manages to stay on his feet. Tibau muscles him into the cage though and they exchange some knees as the crowd chant for Pellegrino. Tibau drops for the takedown again, but Kurt stuffs it and breaks. Pellegrino presses forward now, but neither manís really landed anything meaningful yet. Good counter from Tibau as Pellegrino throws a flurry. Tibau really is freakishly big for 155lbs. Takedown attempt from Pellegrino now and he spins Tibau around, but canít get the big Brazilian down and they end up clinched by the fence again. Good knee to the midsection from Gleison and he manages to get the takedown. Nice reversal from Pellegrino though and they come right back up to their feet. Takedown attempt from Pellegrino, but again Tibau stuffs it into the clinch. Thirty seconds to go and Tibau tries another single leg that Pellegrino blocks. They trade briefly off the break and the round ends with a Tibau left hand. Bit of a nothing round really and youíd have to go 10-10 I guess as neither man asserted themselves enough to take it in my book.
Into the 2nd and Pellegrino pushes forward and then taunts Tibau as the Brazilian lands a glancing left hand. Someone needs to really push this fight methinks. They trade and a pair of heavy right hands have Tibau rocked, stumbling all over the place. He clinches but Kurt slams him down and gets right into side mount. Big shot from the top hurts Tibau again but he does manage to shrimp back into half-guard. Big chant for Kurt as he works from the top with some forearm shots to the body. Looks like Tibauís going for a sweep, but Kurt keeps a strong base and remains on top. Tibau manages to work back into full guard, but he takes a solid short elbow from Batman. One minute to go and Tibau manages to scramble to his feet. His face looks marked up though. Round ends on the feet. Clear round for Kurt Pellegrino, 10-9.
3rd and final round and Tibau looks for the takedown early but Kurt stuffs it. They exchange some strikes from the outside and Tibau lands a couple of counters as Pellegrino gets aggressive. Good left hand for Tibau and he looks to follow with a takedown. Pellegrino stuffs it and they end up clinched on the fence. Right hand breaks for Kurt. Hard left connects for the Brazilian. Good right hand counter from Tibau as well. Single leg from Pellegrino but Tibau blocks it nicely. Kurt forces him towards the fence, but Tibau gets a bodylock and trips him down before hopping into side mount. Kurt gives his back and stands, then drops for a switch, but Tibau avoids and lands a pair of lefts. Takedown attempt from Pellegrino, but Tibau defends well and lands some shots to the head for good measure. They break and Tibau lands another left hand before completing another takedown, this time to guard. Thirty seconds to go and he lands some short ground-and-pound before Kurt attempts to roll for a kneebar on the buzzer. 10-9 Tibau which makes it a 29-29 draw in my book, but it could go either way really. Razor-close fight.
Judges scorecards read 29-28 Tibau, 29-28 Pellegrino, and 29-28 for Tibau to take the split decision. Well, it was really close. Crowd boo, but I donít think Kurt can have many complaints there to be honest. He has since retired from MMA, which is a bit disappointing as heís a solid gatekeeper at 155lbs, but if he wants to move on thatís cool. Not the best fight but I still maintain Tibau could break into the top ten anytime soon and is probably just about entering his prime now.
After a great showing in stopping the John Hathaway hype train at UFC 120, I expected Pyle to be put higher on the card, but instead he was faced with Almeida in a prelim. Almeida for his part was looking to come back from his loss to Matt Hughes at UFC 117, and I figured heíd have too much grappling savvy for Pyle despite how good Pyle had looked in October.
First round and Almeida circles on the outside as Pyle pushes forward. Glancing high kick lands for Almeida. Good leg kick from Pyle. Good right hand lands for Almeida but Pyle counters with a short uppercut. Takedown attempt from Almeida but Pyle stuffs it and then trips him down before refusing to go into the guard. Big shot from Almeida is stuffed and Pyle forces him into the cage. They jockey for position along the fence and exchange knees before breaking off. Another shot from Almeida and this time he gets Pyle down, but Pyle pops right back up and tries a guillotine. Almeida easily breaks off from that though. Good right from Almeida and he really pushes forward but again Pyle blocks a takedown attempt. They muscle for position again before breaking off and Pyle narrowly misses a big knee. Back into the clinch and Pyle avoids another single leg to end the round. Tough round to score as I thought Pyle did slightly better standing, but Almeida was the aggressor and pushed the action more. 10-10.
Second round and they exchange some kicks early on. Big swing by Pyle allows Almeida to duck under and get a takedown, but Pyle quickly scrambles and gets to his feet. Almeida stays on him though and forces him into the fence. They exchange knees again before Pyle defends a single leg and breaks free. Knee lands for Pyle. Right hand from Almeida sets up a takedown attempt, but he ends up on the bottom off a scramble before both men pop back up. Good combination from Almeida. They exchange some punches before Almeida clinches and shoves Pyle back into the fence. Pyle quickly breaks off this time. 1:30 remaining. Solid leg kick from Pyle. Almeida fires back with a pair of his own. Glancing right from Almeida sets up a double leg, and this time he gets it. Pyle immediately goes for a kimura on the right arm though. Almeida looks calm and punches at the body with his free arm, and Pyle lets go. Round ends with a solid elbow from Almeida. Another super-close round. I guess youíd go Almeida for the takedown as it was so even otherwise, but you could easily argue for another 10-10 as well.
Third round and Pyle comes out throwing kicks. Couple of good leg kicks land for him. Crowd begin to boo but itís not like itís a horrible fight or anything. Somewhat dull though I guess. One-two from Pyle but Almeida fires back with a combo of his own. Couple of shots land for Pyle and he avoids a takedown and breaks with a solid knee. Almeida clinches again but Pyle trips him down and lands a good hammer fist. Almeida gets guard but Pyle wants none of that and stands back up. Almeida sneakily tries to grab a single leg as Pyle backs away from him, but Pyle manages to stay on his feet. Almeida drives him into the cage and looks to secure a single leg, and a nice elbow lands for the Big Dog in the clinch. One minute to go and it looks like Pyle might be considering a guillotine, but he gives it up and they break off. Big knee from Pyle catches Almeida leaning in. Takedown from Almeida but Pyle pops right back up. Good knee to the midsection from Pyle. Almeida keeps looking for the single leg, but he canít get him down and Pyle trips him down on the buzzer. Another close round. I could see that one for Pyle which would make it a 29-29 draw, but really this could go either way.
Judges have it 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 all for Mike Pyle. Well, thatís a bit surprising. No way would I have given either guy all three rounds. It was very difficult to score though as neither man had any truly meaningful offense or came close to finishing, so itís not like Almeida got dicked over by the judges or anything. Bit of a dull fight mainly because both guys cancelled one another out, but it wasnít like one of the worst fights Iíve seen or anything.
On paper this was a striking dream match, as Barboza had shown some ridiculous Muay Thai at UFC 123 in his debut while Njokuani built his reputation in the WEC as an expert kickboxer. Personally though I was leaning towards Barboza for well, no real reason to be honest.
First round begins and they circle before Njokuani lands a body kick. Barboza comes back with one of his own and a right hand that drops the Nigerian for a second. He pops back up, but eats another kick to the body. Nice right hand and a head kick from Barboza have Njokuani rocked, but he tries to fire back. Brutal leg kick from Barboza. Right hands land for both men and Njokuani seems recovered now. Combo from Njokuani is answered by a heavy body kick from the Brazilian. Two minutes to go in the round. Overhand right lands for Njokuani. Stiff jab from Barboza and the clinch briefly before breaking. Hard leg kick from Barboza. Good combo from Njokuani and they continue to exchange strikes. Good right hand from Njokuani but Barboza comes back with a pair of kicks. Right hand ends the round for Njokuani. Good opening round. 10-9 Barboza.
Second round and they exchange right away, with Njokuani throwing out some kicks and landing a right hand. They trade jabs before Barboza lands with a body kick. Good leg kick from Barboza. Njokuani is keeping him off with the jab a bit more here though. Spinning back kick to the body lands for Barboza and pops the crowd, but Njokuani catches a kick and tosses him down before following with some ground-and-pound. Barboza quickly explodes to his feet but takes a left hand on the way out. Legs kicks land for both men. The rare question mark kick lands for Njokuani. He follows with a spinning elbow! Stiff jab backs Barboza up. They exchange some more kicks before clinching and exchanging some punches. One minute to go and Njokuani forces him into the cage, but takes a big knee to the midsection before they break. Wheel kick glances for Barboza. Takedown follows and he dumps Njokuani onto his back. The Nigerian immediately works back to his feet, but Barboza pulls him back down into guard to finish the round. Closer round there and Iíd probably give it to Njokuani in fact.
Third round and this is probably winner take all. Both men come out throwing kicks right away and Njokuani lands with a body kick and a lunging right. Good right hand from Barboza. He follows with a leg kick. Combo from Njokuani puts him on the retreat for a second. Nice leg kick from Njokuani but a pair of right hands connect for Barboza and back him up. Combo from Njokuani and he follows with a vicious knee to the body. Spinning side kick from Barboza off another exchange. These guys are really going for it now with both men throwing out strikes. One minute to go and itís still anyoneís fight really. Good punches from both men and then Barboza gets a takedown. Only seconds to go on the clock and that mightíve cemented the decision for the Brazilian. Njokuani escapes to his feet....but Barboza lands with an INSANE SPINNING WHEEL KICK TO THE HEAD that puts Njokuani on wobbly legs as the buzzer sounds! WOW.
Well, thatís a clip for highlight reels for years to come. I expect to see it on the Baba OíRiley video at the next live UFC I see! Judges have it 29-28 for Barboza to take a unanimous decision, probably meaning the takedown and that kick won him the fight, and quite rightfully so. Hell of a striking match between two of the most exciting guys to watch at 155lbs.
Cane was originally set to face Czech powerhouse Karlos Vemola here, but when the London Shootfighter got injured, former TUF competitor Eliot Marshall stepped in, looking to get back into contendership after reeling off three straight wins following his UFC release in 2010. Poor guy even fought on the infamous Nemesis Fighting show!
We get underway and Marshall immediately shoots for a leg, but Cane avoids. Cane pushes forward with a left hand and a nice inside leg kick. Good left hook from Cane in a brief exchange. Nice leg kick and a combo from Cane and Marshall needs to get this fight to the ground stat. Left hand drops Marshall and Cane starts dropping bombs on him, forcing him to cover up. Eliot is in deep trouble here. He just covers up as Cane continues to bomb on him, and after some vicious ground-and-pound from above Dan Miragliotta steps in and calls it.
Very impressive showing from Cane to bounce back from his losses to Nogueira and Diabate. Marshall didnít show much at all though and I doubt heíll be back any time soon. Fun fight even if it was a total squash.
After taking out Gabriel Gonzaga in October, the rumoured opponent for Schaub was originally Frank Mir, but instead he was faced with the legendary Cro Cop, who was looking to get his career back on track after his own awful loss to Mir in September. Schaub had looked excellent against Gonzaga though while Cro Cop seemed on the verge of retirement, so I figured the prospect would tackle the legend in this one.
Fight gets underway and the crowd are WAAAY into Cro Cop, obviously having watched their PRIDE DVDs before they came to the show. They circle around and Schaub presses in with some punches, landing a couple of uppercuts. Good combo from Schaub to back Mirko up. They clinch and Cro Cop lands a knee to the midsection. They muscle for position and Schaub looks to take him down, but Herb Dean decides to call a break. He warns Schaub for an apparent shot to the back of the head, and they restart. Cro Cop pushes forward, but Schaub ducks under and tackles him to guard. Schaub postures up and looks to pass, but eats an upkick as he stands. He steps off and then dives back into the guard, where he begins to work with shots to the body and head. Big punches from Schaub and Cro Cop seems a bit stuck. More shots from Schaub but suddenly Cro Cop reverses him and escapes to his feet. Schaub keeps hold of him and looks to get him down again, but Mirko shows some good defense and remains standing, landing a body shot for good measure. Good knee to the body from Schaub from the clinch and he tries to muscle Mirko down, but canít and takes a right hand on the buzzer. 10-9 Schaub.
Round Two and Schaub comes out swinging. LEFT HIGH KICK OF DEATH pops the crowd, but Schaub blocks the brunt of it and gets a takedown. Schaub begins to work with punches from the top again, but this time Cro Cop lands with an illegal upkick as Schaubís knee was still down. Herb Dean steps in and warns him, which garners boos, but it was clearly an illegal shot. They trade right away off the restart and Cro Cop lands a straight left into the clinch. Good knee from Schaub inside the clinch as they muscle along the fence. Both guys land some heavy knees to the body, and they continue to trade inside the clinch with some nice shots. Looks like Schaubís bleeding quite badly. Elbow inside lands for Mirko. Looks like itís Schaubís nose thatís bleeding. Herb Dean steps in to call a break, and then takes a point from Schaub, apparently for another shot to the back of the head. That rule is such bullshit. They restart and Cro Cop throws the left high kick, but Schaub blocks it and wades into the clinch again. Big knee and a right from Schaub and they break, before he looks for another takedown. Mirko blocks it and the round ends with an exchange from close quarters. Close round but I thought Schaub edged it, but itís a 9-9 with the point deduction.
Final round and Mirko opens with a low blow. Ha. Herb Dean calls time but thereís no point deduction or anything. They restart and Mirko charges into the clinch where they exchange before breaking off. Big takedown from Schaub and he lands in Cro Copís guard. Mirko immediately looks for a sweep, but Schaub keeps a heavy base and remains on top. Mirko wriggles to his feet, but Schaub tackles him right back down to guard. He looks to pass, but Mirko manages to keep full guard. Into half-guard from Schaub though and he smothers the legend before he stands up. Cro Cop pops back up, but takes a one-two into the clinch. They break off again and Cro Cop lands a straight left hand. Schaub charges to look for the takedown again, but Cro Cop blocks it. Left high kick is blocked by Brendan. Back to the clinch for a second, but they break quickly this time. Another clinch is quickly broken and then Schaub shoots for a double leg, but Cro Cop sprawls to avoid. They come back up and Schaub MURDERS HIM WITH AN OVERHAND RIGHT. Holy SHIT.
Second punch was totally pointless as Mirko was clearly unconscious, but such is MMA. That was one of the most brutal knockouts Iíve seen in a long time. This was a much better fight on second viewing too, really heavy-hitting and with a pretty fast pace for a Heavyweight fight too. Cro Cop is done, however, and I canít believe Zuffa are keeping him around for another fight. To me heís where Chuck Liddell was after the Rich Franklin fight, and as a fan of his from PRIDE I donít want to see him brutally knocked out again like he was here or against Frank Mir. Big win for Schaub though who seems to be taking up a Legend Killer gimmick as heís facing Nogueira next.
As I mentioned in the Catone fight, Miller stepped up the card to face Marquardt when Akiyama pulled out. On paper this seemed like a gimme for Nate the Great as while Miller is a tough guy, I didnít think he had Marquardt beaten in any areas.
Round One and they press before Miller looks for a single leg. Marquardt sprawls out to avoid it and it looks like he might be setting up for some sort of choke, but Miller avoids and they come back up in the clinch. Miller looks for the takedown again, but Marquardt hops around on one leg to avoid. Miller keeps coming though and finally manages to get Nate down. Action slow as Miller tries to pull Nate away from the fence, but Nate gets back up and slams Miller down. Miller grabs a guillotine and locks it up though, and Nate quickly tries to escape from the guard to avoid the hold. He manages to work free and ends up in Millerís guard, but Dan ties him up well to prevent any ground-and-pound. Referee Dan Miragliotta decides to call the restart, and Marquardt pops him with the right hand into the clinch, where he lifts Miller up and gets a big slam to guard. Miller goes for the guillotine again, but Nate gets free quickly and so Miller switches to a kimura. Round ends with a bit of ground-and-pound from Nate. Tight round as Marquardt spent more time on top, but really he didnít do much damage and Miller got one takedown of his own and had a tight guillotine, so Iíd probably go 10-9 Miller.
Round Two and Marquardt lands with a nice three-punch combo and a glancing head kick. Good right hand from Miller to fire back. Pair of right hands and a vicious head kick from Nate and he follows with a flying knee. Miller evidently has a good chin though as he takes it all and gets a takedown. Nate turns and pretty much gives his back, but then works back to his feet and breaks free. Heavy right hand lands for Marquardt. Action slows a little as they circle, before Nate lands with another right. Another two right hands land as Marquardt seems to have found his range. Takedown follows and Millerís on his back. He looks for the guillotine again though and it does look pretty tight, but Nate stays really calm and works free. Nate goes to work with elbows from the top, and he remains there to end the round. Clear-cut round for Marquardt there.
Round Three and both men look pretty marked up now. They circle and exchange some strikes early and Marquardt seems to get the better of it. Nice right hand from Nate and Miller shoots, but Marquardt sprawls to avoid it and controls him with a front facelock. Nate spins and gets on top in Millerís guard, and from there he basically feeds Dan a steady diet of elbows and short punches, messing up his face, until the fight comes to an end. Got to be Marquardtís round so it should be his decision 29-28.
Judges all score it in favour of Nate Marquardt. Fight went exactly how I expected really, pretty pedestrian win for Nate in a good-but-not-spectacular showing. Amazing that itís probably his final fight in the UFC after the mess in June, but Iíll leave that alone for now.
After reeling off six straight wins I expected Miller to be put into some sort of title elimination fight, but I guess 155lbs is such a logjam thanks to the Edgar-Maynard draw and the WEC merger with Anthony Pettis coming in and stuff that a lesser fight was pretty much a necessity. His opponent here then was wrestler Shalorus, who despite still being unbeaten, hadnít really impressed me in his last two outings Ė mainly due to his tendencies to crudely strike rather than actually use his international wrestling base Ė and so I took this as another win for Jim.
We get underway and Miller cracks him with a body kick right away as Shalorus looks ready to swing. Both men are swinging pretty wild here right away. Big right hook from Miller though and it looks like heís beating Kamal to the punch. Striking exchange continues and itís no surprise that Shalorus tends to gas with the sheer amount of power he puts into his stiff punches. Kamalís left eye is all marked up. Takedown from Shalorus but Miller pops right back up. Hard, chopping leg kick lands for Shalorus. Nice left hook into a knee from Jim. Big left head kick follows and Shalorus somehow walks right through it and swings back. Body kick from Jim and he follows with a knee to the gut. He grabs a guillotine and tries to pull him down, but Shalorus pops his head free and comes out on top in Millerís guard. Ref calls an unbelievably quick stand-up and Jim lands a nice counter left off a Shalorus low kick. Head kick from Miller and he tries to drop for the guillotine, but Kamal avoids and thatís the round. 10-9 Jim Miller.
Into the 2nd and both men come out swinging again. Good leg kick from Shalorus. Right to the body from Kamal is countered by a Miller uppercut. Single leg from Shalorus and Miller decides to go for a flying armbar, but whiffs on it and Kamal pulls out and stands. Good leg kick lands for Miller. Takedown attempt from Jim and he gets it and takes the back in a sick transition. Crowd pop big too. Jim locks on the body triangle and Shalorus is in trouble. He does a good defensive job though as Miller looks to get the choke. At one point it looks like heís trying the Aoki neck twist, but Shalorus manages to avoid it. A couple of times it looks like heís got the choke sunk, but Shalorus manages to gut out the round and survive till the buzzer. Clear 10-9 for Jim Miller, however.
3rd round and Miller looks insanely fresh. Shalorus continues to swing stiff punches, but he canít land on the better striker and Miller pops him with a straight left. They clinch and Jim lands a knee and then breaks off. Shalorus almost goes off balance when he punches because he swings so hard. Good leg kick connects for him though. Shalorus looks for a takedown but Miller stuffs it. Throw attempt fails for Kamal. Left hand lands for Miller. Left hand again lands and then Miller NAILS him with a big uppercut that stuns the Persian. He staggers back and Jim swarms on him with punches, then decks him with a knee and finishes him with a flurry on the ground.
Outstanding performance from Jim Miller. I know I didnít rate Shalorus in the top ten or anything but heís still a very tough guy who had never been beaten, let alone finished, and Miller basically ran straight through him. Vicious finish, too. Post-fight Joe Rogan basically calls Miller the #1 Contender which is a good sign for him, but heís going to have to go through Ben Henderson (next week!) to get a title shot. Canít wait for that fight!
Always the WECís biggest star, Faber had dropped to 135lbs in November and looked fantastic in doing so, taking out the very tough Takeya Mizugaki in a round. Personally Iíd have given him a title shot based on that, but I guess Zuffa wanted to introduce him to the UFC fanbase and so he was placed against former Bantamweight champ Wineland instead, with the gist of things being that heíd get a crack at Dominick Cruzís title with a win. Although I think Winelandís a bit underrated I still figured Urijah would defeat him en route to the title shot. And side note, but Wineland saying ďEveryone thinks Urijah is one of the best fighters in the world, but heís notĒ is really silly, as itís always smarter to big up your opponent so that you look better if and when you beat them. I thought EVERYONE knew that!
Round One and Faber ties up with him early on and looks for a takedown. Wineland blocks and forces Urijah into the cage, and the crowd begin to chant for Faber. Wineland stays on him though and it looks like heís outmuscling Urijah a bit. Big right hand from Wineland exits the clinch. Takedown attempt from Faber and he gets Eddie down, but only for a split-second and Wineland quickly explodes back up and forces Faber into the fence. Faber keeps trying a hip throw but Wineland blocks every time. Double underhooks from Wineland now and he transitions to the back and hits a suplex! Urijah pops back up quickly though and breaks free. Both men miss head kicks, and then Faber tags him with a counter right hook. Good left from Faber too and he drops for a single leg, but Wineland shows some tremendous defense and blocks, before avoiding a throw too. Nice counter right from Wineland. Heavy right hand follows to counter a Faber leg kick. Right hand answers for Faber. Another one follows and Wineland has to retreat a little. Round ends there. Surprisingly, a good round for Eddie Wineland; enough for him to take it on my scorecard anyway.
Round Two and Faber throws a couple of combos ending in glancing high kicks. Combination misses for Wineland as Faber seems to have worked out his range now. Single leg from Faber and he kicks Winelandís free leg from under him and gets on top in the guard. That was beautiful. Pair of hard elbows land for Urijah as he postures up. Wineland tries to tie him up, but Faber stands to deliver a mini-slam. Good elbows from Faber. Urijah stacks him up and continues to beat on him, but Wineland manages to push off. Only for a second though before Faber tackles him right back down. Couple more nice elbows from Faber and Eddie is taking some deep breaths now. Less than a minute to go and Faber continues to work him over, hitting another mini-slam and a heavy elbow. Round finishes with Urijah on top. Clear 10-9 round for Urijah Faber.
Round Three and Wineland presses the action early, obviously knowing he needs to win the round. He canít seem to land on Faber though and gets caught with a sharp right hand counter. Lunging left to the body from Faber and he shoots on a single leg, but Wineland does a good job of defending it. Good knee inside from Faber though. Eddie breaks off and lands a leg kick, but Faber walks him down and forces him into the cage again. Both men muscle looking for the takedown but Faber breaks off. Halfway through the round now and Faber fakes a takedown and NAILS Wineland with a right hand, then follows with a combination that lands flush. Beautiful movement from Faber to avoid Winelandís punches and he lands with a combination of his own. Urijah is beginning to pull away now. Takedown attempt from Faber and he tries to throw Wineland down before hitting a sudden change of levels and dumping him on his back. That was pretty sick. Another mini-slam follows and then Faber lands a hard elbow. Wineland looks very tired now. Faber stacks up and lands some more shots, ending the fight with ground-and-pound. Got to be a clear-cut 29-28 for Urijah.
Weíre going to the judges and itís a unanimous decision for Urijah Faber, 29-28 all around. Wineland started off well and like I guessed going in, he was a little underrated by people who expected Urijah to just smash him, but once Urijah got into his groove towards the end of the first round he was able to take over the fight and ended up outstriking Wineland as well as doing some damage from the top position too. Good way to introduce Faber to the UFC fans as it was the usual exciting fight from him, and I think heís already being seen as one of the top stars in the company as heís such a charismatic and loveable guy.
What shouldíve been a really intriguing fight between Shogun and Rashad Evans for the LHW Title here suddenly turned into something bigger at UFC 126, when it was announced that Rashad had blown out his knee and the title shot was being offered to Jones Ė the hottest prospect in the division Ė instead. After a string of frightening performances Jones had a ton of momentum coming in, and a lot of people were suggesting that if he could win, he could become like the ďTiger Woods of MMAĒ. In terms of how the fight would go though, there seemed to be two camps Ė one figured that Shogun had been out with injuries for a long time (almost a year) and that the larger, more powerful Jones would prove to be too much for him and run right through him, and the other thought that while Jones *had* looked amazing, his biggest win was only against a fellow prospect (Ryan Bader) and the experienced Shogun Ė probably the greatest 205lber of all time Ė would just have too much for him to handle. I was sort-of leaning towards the second viewpoint, as to me a healthy Shogun would basically be unbeatable, and well, Iíll be honest and say I donít like Jones to begin with as he comes off as disingenuous and Iím not a fan of uber-athletes unless theyíre named GSP. Sorry!
Fight begins and Jones comes right out and lands a flying knee! Shogun tries to grab him, but Jones quickly backs out. Couple of kicks from Jones and he shrugs off a clinch before missing a spinning kick. Shogun misses a punch and Jones grabs him around the head and throws him to the ground like a child. Good lord. He lands right in half-guard. Shogun works back to full guard, and throws his legs up to attempt a triangle, but Jones postures out of that and gets back into half-guard. It looks like he might be going for the same guillotine variant that he tapped Ryan Bader with, but Shogun avoids it and looks to be considering a possible leglock. Instead he works back to full guard, but Jones drops an elbow. Sweep attempt from Shogun but Jones blocks that with sheer strength. Heavy elbows to the body from the challenger before Shogun tries to scramble to his feet. He manages to do so, but takes a pair of vicious knees to the body on the way and Jones adds a left hand as he stands. Flurry from Jones and Rua looks badly hurt. He presses forward, but Jones picks at him and throws a side kick to the leg before landing with a knee. Shogun lunges in, but Jones avoids and lands with two knees to the body and another right. Shogun just canít seem to do anything with him. Right hand glances for the champion and he tries to dive on a leglock as Jones goes for a spinning elbow, but he slips and Jones winds up on top again. Round ends with Jones in control and Shogun looking in trouble. Clear 10-9 Jones.
Into the 2nd and it does look like Jones is a weight class bigger than the champion. Few kicks from Jones keep the distance early on before Shogun misses a shot and allows the challenger to clinch. Nasty spinning elbow out of the clinch lands for Jones and he follows with a straight left. Superman punch follows and then a leg kick. Shogun pushes forward, but heís looking like a wounded man. They clinch for a moment before Shogun breaks, but a pair of wild hooks miss for the Brazilian. Good left to the body from Jones. Left hand staggers Shogun and Jones follows with an elbow. Good leg kick from the challenger and he leans back to avoid the championís shots. Leg kick from Shogun is caught and Jones shoves him down and lands a pair of heavy punches on the ground. Jones pie-faces him from the top and then drops a hard elbow. This is a one-sided beating. Shogunís face is looking badly marked up. He tries to tie up the challenger but takes some elbows to the body for his troubles. One minute to go and heís in half-guard now. Shogun seems to be looking for a sweep, but Jones is too strong. Brutal elbow to the body from Jones and he ends the round by spinning for a possible kneebar. Totally one-sided round in favour of Jon Jones.
3rd round and Shogun looks exhausted, probably due to all the abuse heís taken so far. His face is a real mess too. He comes out pressing the action, but the reach and size of Jones seems to be too difficult a puzzle to solve. Big head kick misses for Jones and Shogun gets his back and tries to dive for a leglock, but Jones scrambles free and gets on top before just forcing Rua onto his back after letting go of a possible kimura. Heís making Shogun look like a fucking child. Into half-guard and Jones opens up with some hard shots before Shogun regains guard. It doesnít make a difference though as Jones flurries from there and bashes the champion some more. Shogun is taking some massive breaths now. BRUTAL left hand cracks Shogun and Jones follows with some VICIOUS ELBOWS! He postures up looking to finish and Rua is forced to roll, but only ends up taking knees from the turtle position. He manages to stagger to his feet, but Jones follows him across the cage and DROPS HIM WITH A BODY SHOT AND A KNEE! Shogun starts to tap as he hits the ground but Herb Deanís already stopped it. Good lord almighty. That was a MASSACRE.
What can you say about that? Iím not a fan of Jones at all but you canít help but be impressed with that, as it was probably the most one-sided title fight since Silva-Franklin or at least GSP-Serra, and it was certainly the most nasty beating Shogunís ever taken in his career. I mean sure, he lost to Griffin, but that was a dogfight and he lost because of a shitty gas tank more than anything. Here the guy could just do NOTHING with Jones who fought like a fucking human spider, limbs everywhere cracking Shogun from all sorts of angles. After the ĎMachida Eraí came to such a quick halt itís difficult to say that someone is going to hold a title for a long time, but based on this I donít see anyone around whoís going to dethrone this guy any time soon. This was an absolutely terrifying performance and I donít see how Rampage, who is next in line, does any better.
-Highlight reel plays and the show ends there.
This is probably going to be a show thatís defined by how long Jon Jonesís title reign lasts. If he turns out to be a legendary champion who beats all comers then in time itíll be remembered as a classic, the place where the dominance began, but if he turns out to be a flash in the pan then itíll be seen as just another UFC show I guess, as there was nothing truly outstanding here even if Faber-Wineland, Schaub-Cro Cop, Miller-Shalorus and Barboza-Njokuani were very good fights. Still, there are a couple of big time highlight reel endings here (especially the Cro Cop KO) and itís insane to see Shogun get so manhandled in the main event, so that makes UFC 128 an easy thumbs up.
Best Fight: Faber-Wineland
Worst Fight: Pyle-Almeida
Overall Rating: ****
UFC: 129-133, Fight Night 24, Versus 4
Strike Force: Fedor vs. Henderson
King of the Cage: Various shows